Perspectives on Parks 2010 Presentations
NiCHE has archived audio presentations from
Slack, Jeff. "‘The Spirit of
Adventure, the Lure of the Beautiful, and the Service of Science’: The
Diversified Charms of Garibaldi’s Alpine Playground, 1904-1939."
Historical and Global Perspectives on Provincial, Local & Regional Parks in
Canada. 29 October 2010.
Jeff Slack in an MA student in the
Department of History at the University of Northern British Columbia.
During the late nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries profoundly new ways of thinking about and acting within the
natural world emerged throughout North America. Previous environmental value
systems that viewed the natural world as an inexhaustible storehouse of
resources waiting to be exploited increasingly gave way to anxieties about the
loss of natural landscapes whose potential benefits to society were only
beginning to be understood and appreciated. New relationships, many came to
believe, would have to be forged between nature and humankind.
If anything, such cultural change was
especially rapid on the British Columbia coast. Rapid urbanization beginning
around the turn of the twentieth century completely altered the region’s human
geography. Over the next four decades associated socio-cultural change led many
local residents to view their natural surroundings, the mountain wilderness in
particular, in a new light. No longer a regrettable impediment to progress, the
Coast Mountains came to be seen as a still-wild, but now benign and “pure”
landscape. The “discovery” of the territory that soon became Garibaldi
Provincial Park was a major catalyst and venue for the popularization of these
An emerging mountaineering community
successfully campaigned for the preservation of the Garibaldi landscape in its
pristine state. Newspapers and politicians soon joined their chorus,
proclaiming that mountain landscapes such as Garibaldi could foster the
development of mass recreational cultures that would be a key contributor to
British Columbia’s future physical, economic, and spiritual well-being. These
new conceptions of the Coast Mountain landscape remain a dominant paradigm to
Despite this quasi-utopian tone, however,
public funding and policy for the park fell short of the expectations of
Garibaldi’s many advocates. By examining this discrepancy one can gain a
knowledge of the relationship between popular perceptions of landscape with
parks policy in interwar Canada.